Republican legislator concerned about 'provocation' in Lansing protests
(5/14/2020) - Protesters didn't go inside the Michigan Capitol on Thursday because it was closed and the Legislature was not in session.
But the last major protest on April 30 included dozens of people inside the Capitol Rotunda carrying guns while legislators were meeting on both ends of the building.
"I have always wondered what the purpose was or was in people's minds who wanted to present themselves as this quasi-military individual with the flack jackets and the rifles flung in front of the chest," said State Rep. Ben Frederick, a Republican from Owosso. "I see nothing in that but provocation."
Frederick was at the Capitol during the April 30 protest when armed demonstrators stormed the building.
"It made for a tense environment, absolutely," he said.
Frederick supports everyone's right to protest, but he is concerned about the manner in which some are exercising that right.
"There is a right to assemble. There is a right to protest. But incendiary speech, hate speech, moves toward aggression -- there is no place for it, and it's damaging to our civil discourse and trivializes the problems that real people are having," he said. "I see these people as opportunist."
The Owosso community where Frederick lives has been thrust into the national spotlight after barber and business owner Karl Manke defied an executive order and opened his business.
Frederick said there are some similarities between some of those protesting at the Capitol and some who are showing support for the business owner.